February 22, 2019
Recent office design trends have seen the traditional office space as we once knew transformed into a creative’s collaboration paradise. Open office plans have become increasingly popular over the last 5 years, particularly in Silicon Valley where small tech start-ups removed walls and cubicles in a bid to encourage collaboration, the sharing of space, resources, and talent. This may have worked well for companies who thrive on collaboration and creativity but offered very little room for privacy and quietness (or silence?).
Office noise has become a major concern within office spaces in Australia
A recent study by Oxford Economics surveyed 2184 professionals from a variety of industries from all around the world and found that 63 percent of employees say they lack quiet space for focused work, which had a negative impact on their productivity, satisfaction and well-being.
Of the 312 Australians that were apart of the study, 55 percent of the respondents are disrupted by noise multiple times a day and up to 69 percent would prefer to work in a more traditional workspace with high walled cubicles or offices.
Image source: Plantronics.com
A key takeaway from this study was that the primary cause of noise in the workplace was due to the increasing number of employees per square footage of office space. It discovered that 55 percent of employees were turning to their own methods for noise mitigation and that a staggering 81 percent worked for a company that took no action to remedy the noise problem.
Image source: Plantronics.com
With noise being one of the biggest challenges in the Australian workplace causing an inability to focus, reducing productivity, and even resulting in employees having to leave their office to find a quieter place, we have listed top 6 ways to help reduce the noise in your office.
Noise friendly flooring
We understand that hard flooring surfaces like natural wood, ceramic or concrete can be quite aesthetically pleasing but unfortunately, can cause acoustic mayhem within an open plan office. An ideal choice of commercial grade flooring would be interlocking carpet tiles. They provide better soundproofing and acoustics for the office, is extremely versatile, budget friendly, and made to withstand high foot traffic. Commercial vinyl flooring is another good option to consider as it is extremely easy to maintain, comes in a wide variety of design options including wood-look tiles, and has better sound absorption. Whether you choose LVT, LVP or carpet tiling, each flooring type is going to have its pros and cons, you just need to find what works best for your environment.
Dedicated quiet rooms
One of the most efficient ways in tackling office noise is to introduce quiet rooms where employees can go and focus on important tasks or projects. These spaces are designated for non-group work and can help increase employees productivity. Quiet rooms should be located away from the busy areas in the office, and should clearly indicate to staff where it is and what it is to be used for. Whether you turn an empty office or meeting room into a quiet space, or have one installed, you should only ever have 1-2 employees inside at a time otherwise it tends to become a general meeting room. It is a clear indication that with 29 percent of employees leaving their desk to find a quieter part of the office, dedicated quiet rooms are essential in combating office noise and increasing productivity.
Image Source: Intoconcept.com
Noise cancelling headphones
Redesigning the office space may not be a feasible option for everyone, this is where high quality noise cancelling headphones come into play. This will give employees an easy option to block out their surroundings and to concentrate on their work without having to move workstations. Certain brands even boast 100% noise reduction using microphones and special processing technology that creates an opposite sound wave that enters your eardrum.
Reduce office noise with plants
What started off as an office trend, biophilic design allows us to integrate nature into our architectural framework and utilise live plants as a means to satiate our instincts of being close to nature. Apart from the environmental and health benefits of plants, they have also been proven to be effective in reducing noise levels in an open plan office. Vertical gardens, also known as green walls have become increasingly popular in commercial spaces for not only design purposes but for its many benefits. (link to benefits of vertical garden article)
Image source: frenchams.com.au
How to reduce office noise with furniture
When it comes to reducing office noise every little bit counts and that includes the types of furniture you use. You may want to consider high backed couches, or enclosed booths that essentially separates the employee from the rest of the room using soundproof materials. In conjunction with your furniture, consider the layout of your office; desks that are situated closer together in clusters help compartmentalize noise, put all noisey office equipment in a separate room and away from employees (eg: printer, fax machine, copy machine).
Image source: intoconcept.com
Acoustic ceiling and wall panels
Consider using acoustic panels on the ceiling and walls to absorb ambient vibrations. They come in a wide range of designs and styles allowing you to be creative as well as functional. Unfortunately, this option is not for everyone as it can be quite costly but it should still be considered.
It is clear that open plan offices definitely has its advantages and disadvantages with one side of the fence embracing collaboration and creativity, to the otherside who so desperately seek to escape the chaos. By utilising all of our options available in reducing office noise, we can feel more confident about our employee’s productivity and well-being.
If you are interested in soundproofing your office flooring or in search of some inspiration, contact our commercial flooring team over at Jupps for more information. We do commercial projects in Perth, Bunbury, Karratha, Geraldton, Port Headland and Ocean Keys. Check out our most recent commercial projects in Western Australia.